ASK CAROLINE: Our relationships expert Caroline West-Meads answers your questions

If you have a problem, email Caroline at Caroline reads all your letters but regrets she cannot answer each one personally

If you have a problem, email Caroline at Caroline reads all letters, but regrets that she cannot respond to each one.

Do you think she should still be in touch? 

Q   I’ve been with my girlfriend for three months. We are both in our 30s and she has a nine year-old son from her previous marriage. I don’t have children. They are great friends, they have chemistry and enjoy being together. I like her son as well and enjoy spending time with them. Recently, she confessed that she had a four-year relationship with a coworker while she was married. It started when she was going through a rough patch with her ex-husband and they hadn’t been communicating well – her ex still doesn’t know she had an affair. She told me that she really fell in love with this man – and when her marriage ended, she was upset because he wouldn’t leave his wife. He still calls her when his wife is away, but it is only to check if she is available for sexual liaison, even though she has already told him that she is with him. How can I tell her to stop contacting him? I’ve been cheated on before and I’m worried that she could restart the affair.  


He contacts her to see if she’s available for sex 

  I understand your concerns. Your girlfriend clearly loved the man, and I agree that she must end all contact with him if she wants to have a chance at a relationship. It does sound, unfortunately, as though she still has feelings for him, so this won’t be easy. Affairs don’t always end naturally – often they finish only because of discovery or the difficulties of finding time together – and feelings might not get a chance to burn out. During the affair’s height, both parties are on their best behaviour and they don’t see each other’s faults. This, combined with the thrill of the illicit can make the lover seem very exciting. I suspect also that because she met this man when her husband wasn’t emotionally available, she may have leaned on him for support and friendship. Your relationship is new and you’re probably wondering if she will develop such strong feelings for you – while also worrying that the affair could restart. All of this can be addressed. You need to explain to your girlfriend that you realise she may have feelings for this man, but that you don’t want to be second best. If she’s still thinking about him, it won’t stop her from committing. Ask her, perhaps boldly, if you think she would fall in love with your in the same way that she fell in love with him. If she answers positively, she should stop contacting him. To help her grieve for her ex, it might be a good idea to seek counselling. It’s possible there could be a transition phase as she starts to fall in love with you, so don’t give up just yet. If she decides not to end the relationship and is ready to commit to you, you might consider going to counselling together to discuss your insecurity and the importance and benefits of being a partner.



I want my mother to be properly diagnosed  

Q  MMy mum is in her late 80s. she has dementia. My dad, Who is physically frail and over 90 It’s having to look after her. It’s It was a great strain on him, even though he still had all his. Mental faculties. I really want to take my mom to the doctor  To receive a diagnosis My brother and my dad are reluctant to tell my mom. They both say they don’t want her to know that she’s got dementia because she’d be upset. I can understand their point of view to some extent, but I’m really worried about my dad’s wellbeing and I believe he needs more support. My brother and I both have to work full-time so we’re not around as much as we’d like.



Because it is such a frightening diagnosis, I can understand your brother and dad’s fears. Your parents need support and only a diagnosis is going to help them. Explain gently to them both that if they don’t address the problem, your mum could miss out on treatment and support that she desperately needs. There is no cure for the condition, but there are medications which can sometimes slow its progression. Also, your parents would be entitled to various benefits such as attendance allowance or carer’s allowance and a reduction in council tax. This could help your dad get some financial assistance. Caring for your father at his age can be a difficult task. Taking care of your mother could put them both at risk. Ask your dad to take your mother to the doctor. Do also contact the Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Connect service on 0333 150 3456.